Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez will take a share of the lead into the third round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open as he seeks a first European Tour title in five years despite a closing double bogey.
In brutal afternoon conditions, the 44 year old birdied the second before picking up further shots from close range at the fourth and fifth.
Finding sand at the eighth cost Gonzalez his first shot of the day, but the four-time European Tour winner parred the next nine – no mean feat on a day the winds at Royal Aberdeen had switched to create havoc on the back nine.
But he drove into rough down the last, hacked out into a bush and after a penalty drop a closing double bogey saw him card a level par 71 and sit tied with home favourite Marc Warren and Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg on six under par.
“I was unlucky on 18 because I didn't have a good lie and tried to reach the green in two, but it was a mistake. I'm happy because I played good 17 holes.
“I need to sometimes stay patient and play safe. Of course, that didn't happen on 18.
“I'm very happy because I hit it good and made a good score.”
Overnight leader Rory McIlroy took 40 shots on the way in and was by no means the only player to suffer, a round of 78 taking the Northern Irishman all the way back to level par.
Warren holed a huge putt across the 12th green for one of six birdies in his 69, while Broberg had five birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey in an eventful 71.
Warren was on course to win his National Open two years ago but lost a three shot lead with four to play in 2012 at Castle Stuart and admitted it would be a "romantic tale" if he could make amends on Sunday.
"It's a massive week and anyone would love to win, but being Scottish it would be that much more special," Warren said after birdies on the 16th and 18th gave him a round of 69. "What happened two years ago was tough to take at the time but it was good experience and hopefully it will stand me in good stead.
"The course is tough enough anyway, never mind playing the back nine into this wind. After bogeys on the 14th and 15th I said to my caddie let's try to have a strong finish but to finish three-three-three was beyond my wildest dreams."
Broberg insists he is “here to win”, but the former Challenge Tour star is keen to sharpen up around the greens.
“I played alright but my short game was terrible,” he said.
England’s Justin Rose is alone in fourth on five under following a 68, with compatriot David Howell a shot further back in fifth.
McIlroy had set a new course record of 64 at Royal Aberdeen on Thursday, but as the wind changed direction so did the former World Number One.
“It's been the case all year. I've got off to great starts and fell away but I am still in the tournament and I can go out in the morning and try to get some of those shots back," the 25 year old said.
"You are having to talk about it (his Friday performances) so it's in your mind and I am maybe putting more pressure on myself to shoot a good score. It's another Friday out of the way, thank God, and I can go on to the weekend. I shot 68 on the Friday at the US Open so hopefully next week will be the same."
In contrast, Ryder Cup team-mate Rose went from woeful on Wednesday to title contender on Friday.
Rose, who won the Quicken Loans National at Congressional a fortnight ago, said: "I came here on Wednesday and felt absolutely horrendous. It was like I had lost my game somewhere over the Atlantic. But the last couple of days I have been finding my feet again and that's part of the reason for playing this week ahead of Hoylake.
"It was great to see the course in a completely opposite wind. The par fives are playing very easy on the front nine and there are some tough par fours on the back nine. I did well to hang on to my score on the back nine and made a few good six or seven-footers coming in."
Six-time Major winner Sir Nick Faldo had threatened to produce something special when he birdied the fourth and fifth and holed from 40 feet for an eagle on the sixth, but the 56 year old dropped four shots in five holes from the eighth and eventually carded a second consecutive 73 to finish four over par.
"I played nicely on the easy holes downwind, then I made a couple of bad swings and it just scared me," said Faldo, who spends most of his time as a television analyst in America but will also compete at Hoylake next week.
"I was going nicely, inside the cut line, but then I made a mess of it. Simple as that."
Defending champion Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald carded rounds of 73 to finish one and two under respectively.